Interview with Marco Espada (vocalist, guitarist) of Athenesi by Dave Wolff
Tell us about the promotional video you released for "Inhale Insanity" a few months ago. What was the choice of location for the set and how was the sound produced and mixed? Does the song come from an official release?
The music video was filmed at Costa Serina. A small place in Bergamo (Italy) between the mountains. We decided to make the music video there because we liked the setting and wanted to show the environment outside our city. We also liked the idea of being in nature and seeing what could happen because we filmed it during the winter season.
The song was recorded at Midnight Studios, Twilight Studios, and in the home studio of singer Marco. The mix was at Twilight Studios located in Milan. The owner is a friend of our producer Jean. We had technical help from Richard Meinz (Lacuna Coil) while recording the drums. The recordings were delayed some weeks because we were in quarantine and it was difficult to meet in the studio because we live in different cities.
“Inhale Insanity” is a song taken from the debut album “At the Beginning” and it’s our third music video that we made with the Italian video director Nicola Belotti.
Can you tell the readers how you were able to obtain technical assistance with the drum tracks from Richard Meinz of Lacuna Coil?
Richard Meinz was the drum teacher of our drummer and he became a friend of us, so he decided to give us his technical assistance.
Is your promotional video for "Objection" concerned with the same issues as "Inhale Insanity," such as corporate greed, big business, pollution, and its effects? Was it also held at the same location? Would you be able to describe your video for "Beyond the Cell" in a few words?
“Inhale Insanity” actually addresses personal issues. Often we do not feel part of society, so we blame others for what happens even if we contribute every day to improve or worsen it. “Objection” was filmed in an old abandoned factory in the mountains, that place was now destroyed inside covered with plants, etc. Since the song talks about climate change, it seemed the right place to make a video in Brescia, a city close to ours. We filmed the video for “Beyond My Cell” in a recording studio in Milan. We wanted something simple because often the budget is limited.
In your search for a director, how many directors did you consider before choosing Nicola Belotti? How would you describe your videos to someone who has not yet seen them?
We talked with two or maybe three video makers, but with Nicola, it was much easier to communicate because he understood our ideas. In our videos, we always want to show the same adrenaline we feel when we play our songs. It cannot seem, but behind it there is a lot of work because it is not easy to move to where we went. In any case, you can know something about our country.
Previous to his work with Athenesi, what other bands did Nicola Belotti work with?
He works often for some special events. Weddings, extreme sports or luxury brands. But he is a very good video director.
Do your videos depict the contrast between modern technology and nature as the band envisioned it?
We got what we wanted. We had our ideas and we proposed them to Nicola. He did everything. We wanted to show how technology gives us much more comfort but at the same time is ruining our planet.
How does mixing at Twilight Studios in Milan help you achieve the sound you desire after recording at different locations?
We recorded the whole album first. Then we started making music videos so we didn’t risk having different sounds.
In your songs, you combine an edgy old-school thrash sound with grooves and metalcore elements. At the time of the band's formation, how important was it for Athenesi to maintain their connection to thrash metal while modernizing their sound?
In the band, the members listen to different musical genres such as thrash, black, death, rock, etc. but we started playing genres such as metal and thrash metal; for example Sepultura, Metallica, and Slayer; when we were younger. I think that influenced the desire to play fast.
How much of your album "At the Beginning" was recorded in your own studio? Are the equipment and facilities there of the same professional quality as those at Midnight Studio and Twilight Studio? Did you find it easier to achieve the sound you desired with analog or digital equipment?
All the guitar recordings were made at my personal studio. Our producer Jean has purchased the equipment necessary for me to work during the quarantine. Obviously, recording in the studio is better, but we are satisfied with the results of the recordings. Our album is a mix between analog and digital. Now almost everyone does so. At that time we had not much of an alternative, otherwise, the album would have continued to delay.
Who is responsible for writing the lyrics to your songs? When writing the lyrics, was the lyricist heavily influenced by news stories and/or other sources?
All the lyrics were written by me, some are very personal while others are more connected to historical events or news that often happen every day of life; wars, science, religion, drugs/alcohol addictions, etc.
What historical events or current events have influenced your songwriting? What has been the impact of your personal experiences on your writing?
One of the historical events that have influenced was the colonial period in Mesoamerica. Current events such as the wars in the Middle East or situations in which people immigrate to Europe to escape from their social situations. My personal expressions influenced the lyrics. For example, moments when I didn’t feel satisfied with certain situations that happened or happen in my life.
In addition to your personal experiences that contributed to the inspiration for your lyrics, what is the role that science and religion play in them?
I’m very curious about science when new scientific discoveries are made or new technologies are developed. And I think the same thing about religions, I think many things are interesting, but I also think that both should help to live better but at the same time cause problems in different parts of the world.
Like environmental problems, if we talk about science or new technologies, wars, and discrimination when we talk about religion.
Has the band aggressively promoted your videos on social media, and how much publicity has this generated for "At the Beginning"?
We promoted all three videos, but not aggressively. For that it takes a high budget and being an emerging band we prefer to do it consistently and not just once aggressively. We had a satisfying result online. “At The Beginning” is our first album so we have to give it time to grow.
Would you like to make more promotional videos to promote the album, and will you be working with the same people as before?
We haven’t more promotional videos. Maybe we’ll work with new people. We like to meet new professionals and we want something new for the next album.
What formats is "At the Beginning" available in, and where can interested parties purchase them online and/or order physical copies?
At the moment our album is available on Bandcamp. We haven’t yet physical copies but of course, we’ll sell them soon.
Can you tell me which zines, webzines, and podcasts the band has been featured in to promote your album?
We collaborated with some webzines and podcasts: Breathing the Core, All Alternative, Power of metal, Rock On, BreakdownUnder, and more.
In the course of the Covid pandemic, how often has the band had the opportunity to perform in front of an audience? At this point, do you prefer to perform at local metal festivals or local clubs?
We started the shows after the Covid pandemic. It’s not easy at all to find concerts at the moment but of course, we would like to play at some metal festivals.
Do you have any specific metal festivals in mind where you would like to perform? In your opinion, how effective would it be in terms of gaining exposure for the band?
We would like to play Wacken. It’s the biggest festival, and of course, we would love to meet the biggest bands there. We think that could be a great opportunity for us because there are a lot of people.
The singles and the full-length were independently released. Are you looking for potential label support for your next full-length album? Would you like your deal to be structured in a particular manner?
We produced our album together with Jean. We refused one label after we spoke via email because the contract didn’t seem good for us. Obviously, for the next album, we will try to release it with a label. Hoping to be convinced of what they will propose.
Do you have any labels in your country of origin or outside your country of origin that you are considering signing with? In your opinion, will a domestic or foreign label help to spread the word about the band?
We have some contacts. We sent emails to some labels from the US and Europe. Of course, nobody knew us, so next time maybe we’ll be lucky because we’ll have a fan base. It’s not hard to share our music to the world because we have the internet but it’s better if a music label does that for us. They are professionals.
Where can people interested in helping support the band contact you?
It’s possible to find us on Bandcamp and buy the album. That will help us, and of course, sharing our music on social media.